My Design Process
For this contest, I wanted to design an Arts and crafts style bookcase with some unique features. When designing a new piece of furniture, I prefer to start from the intended uses of the piece, any requirements for the dimensions, and any preferences for the style. In this case, the primary requirement was that the bookcase be “one of a kind”.
Based on this, I developed my own short list of requirements for the piece as follows:
1. The bookcase must offer a storage solution for magazines.
2. The bookcase should include a catch-all area for small decorations, books in progress, or other items that would normally collect on the top of the bookcase.
3. The style of the bookcase should primarily be Arts and Crafts.
4. The dimensions should be in good proportion and of a size that would fit easily in most homes.
After developing the requirements for the piece, I began sketching various ideas on paper. I prefer to develop rough ideas on paper first and move to Sketchup once I have 2 or 3 ideas I like. In this case, that’s exactly what I did. To get the overall proportions of the piece right, I started by mocking up the piece without any joinery. After the form of the overall piece looked right, I began adding details and joinery. This was an iterative process, as I had to refine some proportions slightly to make the joinery sound.
You will note that the bookcase has several unique features including the following:
1. The drawers are designed to hold magazines and to serve as totes that can be removed. I believe this solution is both attractive and functional.
2. The top shelf is designed as a catch all area for books in progress and other items that might normally collect on the top of the bookcase. The negative space created above this shelf provides a nice counter balance to the negative space below the piece.
3. The taper of the legs adds visual weight and interest to the piece.
As you will see the joinery is reasonably straight forward. It is important to note that all components are intended to be solid wood with the exception of the plywood drawer bottoms. The piece is designed to allow wood movement across the entire depth of the piece.
I have not shown all of the joinery in the model. The primary reason for this is that I ran out of time! Here is a description of the joinery that I intend. Some of this is included in the model, and some is not yet incorporated.
1. The stretchers should be attached to the legs with mortise and tenon joints.
2. The sides should be rabetted and mate into dados in the legs. The sides in the model include the rabbets, but I have not yet cut the dados.
3. The sides and the legs have grooves into which the full depth of each shelf fits (for example, take a look at the top shelf – the others have not yet been done).
4. The verticals that separate the drawers from the adjacent shelf will include a long tenon to fit into a stopped dado in the shelf above and below.
5. The drawers should include half-blind dovetails on the fronts and through dovetails on the back.
6. The door railes and stiles should be joined with mortise and tenon joints.
7. The top is attached with mortise and tenon joints (shown in the model).
8. The breadboard ends on the top are attached via a toungue milled into the top and mating grooves milled into the breadboard ends.
9. The shiplap back fits into a groove on the left, right, and top. The rabbets on the shiplap boards are as shown. However, the grooves they mate with are not. The shiplap sits in a rabbet as shown on the bottom stretcher.
10. The top stretcher should be joined with a mortise and tenon to the legs. Note that the mortise and tenon needs to be offset below the shelf that sits on this stretcher.
About the Materials
As noted above, the piece is almost entirely solid wood. I envision building this piece from Mahogany, Walnut, or the more traditional White Oak. I will make a final decision on material based on what I find when I visit the sawyer.
Thank you for taking time to review my bookcase!
-- Daniel, Southern Indiana -- "Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." -- http://blackdogwoodshop.etsy.com